Pauline, this post is for you….

Many of us experience tightness of various areas of our bodies from the surgeries and radiation that we undergo. We pay plenty of attention to it at first, doing our daily stretches. Of course, it’s important to know how to stretch properly. Always stretch just to the point of a slight pull, hold for at least 10 seconds, and release. And keep breathing while you stretch! If you hold your breath while stretching, your body will tend to stay tense – deep breaths help your muscles release.

Do your stretches every day; do them often every day. It can be more effective for this kind of recovery to do several short bouts of stretching rather than one longer stretching session, once a day. You may not see a lot of progress at first; it can take a while before the area starts to feel more normal again.

But that’s not the end of it. This is not a problem you will fix once; it takes constant upkeep. You won’t always have to be quite so diligent, but you will need to pay attention. Over time, the body will tend to tighten up again. I’m at 7 years, and counting, and I still have to work to stretch out my chest and shoulder, as well as my stomach (I had a tram flap). I might not notice any difference if I don’t stretch for a couple of days, but I will start to notice tightness if I don’t stretch for a week.

And even when I stretch, I wouldn’t say that my body feels the same way it did before surgery. I work to make sure I have good mobility and flexibility so that I can do all the things I want to. I am not really limited in what I can do, but that doesn’t mean it feels like I never had any surgery. I think that’s a point which people don’t always understand. (That’s one of the reasons I don’t really understand people choosing elective cosmetic surgeries – surgery does change the body; it’s not nothing.) Muscles have been cut, scar tissue has developed, in some cases nerves have been damaged. You can regain full range of motion and function, but it might not feel just the way it did before.

This is not to discourage you, this is just a reminder that our bodies need upkeep. Everyone’s body needs upkeep – ours just might need a little more because we’ve had a little more done to them. But the good news is that if we do pay attention and keep with it, there’s no reason we can’t return to the things we enjoy in our lives. Take me as an example: I do a lot of things that many perfectly healthy people who have never had any surgery think are a little nuts (rock & ice climbing, windsurfing, etc.). Even though I’ve had extensive surgeries plus radiation, because I continue working to keep things stretched out I am able to do all these crazy things. You don’t need to go windsurfing or climbing, you just need to be comfortable doing your normal daily activities. All it takes is a little time and diligence.


(you can read more about this at www.Life-cise.com.)

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